Art lovers use X-rays to give life to Venus statue...


Written on Sunday, November 05, 2006 by Gemini

Conservators trying to restore a 1,900-year-old statue of Venus have put their heads together with airline maintenance inspectors who usually scrutinise welds and repairs in jet engines for any cracks.

Officials at the Michael C Carlos Museum at Emory University this summer bought the Roman marble statue and its head, which had broken off sometime in the past 170 years. On Thursday, they enlisted the help of Delta Air Lines inspectors at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, who took Xrays of the statue and the head to try to determine where the statue has been broken before and how repairs are holding up.

Conservators will look for rusting metal pins that might have been inserted to fix cracks. Once they establish the condition of those repairs, which could date from antiquity to as recently as 200 years ago, they will know how best to put the 4-foot-6-inch statue back together.

“I spend two-thirds of my time reversing other people’s good intentions,” museum conservator Renee Stein said jokingly of repairs. The statue is a copy of a Greek bronze sculpture that scholars say is the most widely reproduced female statue in antiquity.

While there are thousands of images of Venus in all sorts of sizes and materials, this restoration is significant as few statues are as large and nearly intact as this one, missing only the right arm. “When statue pieces go down different roads, and they’re recognised, bought, and put back together, it’s extremely noteworthy,” said Francesco de Angelis, a professor of Roman art at Columbia University.

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